Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 1214-1216


Kirch, Gottfried

BornGuben, (Bradenburg, Germany), 18 December 1639

DiedBerlin, (Germany), 25 July 1710

Gottfried Kirch, probably the most prominent German astronomer around 1700, is best known for having published long series of calendars and ephemerides. Also an active observer, Kirch was famous for his discovery of the bright comet of 1680. In 1686 Kirch detected the variable star χ Cygni, the third known variable star after Mira itself (detected 1639) and Algol (1669). His career culminated in his appointment as the first permanently engaged astronomo ordinario at Berlin on 18 May 1700.

Kirch was born during the 30 Years’ War. His father, Michael Kirch, a tailor, had to flee with his family from Guben, and the childhood of Gottfried was therefore rather restless. He probably never received a university degree. However, Kirch had good contacts with Erhard Weigel, who taught mathematics, astronomy, geography, and physics at the University of Jena from 1653 to 1699. Weigel recommended Kirch to the promin ...

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